Does having a professional city or county manager in charge make a difference? Are Florida’s cities and counties in better shape because professionals are steering the ship? If you answered “yes”, you agree having a professional leading the way does make the difference. Running a city or county is difficult because cities do so much. We run water and electric companies, roadbuilding firms, operate parks, administer athletic leagues, and keep residents safe by providing police and fire services. We own airports and golf courses, cemeteries, and healthcare facilities. We do it all.
In the private sector, companies can offer one service or provide one product and be considered successful. To successfully run a local government, you have to provide several different products and services, AND, more importantly, be able to effectively communicate with elected officials and the public about the products and services. Whether it’s the need for a new bridge, the widening of a road, or why the fees for youth flag football need to be raised, you must be able to understand and explain the “why” to kindergarteners and college professors.
Some of Florida’s legislative and executive leaders claim Florida’s business climate is the reason companies (and people) are relocating here. I think it’s part of the answer, but it’s only a small part. Instead, I think one of the main reasons people move to Florida is the quality of life found in Florida’s communities. People come here because of good roads and fast commutes, quality schools, low crime rates, beautiful parks, arts and culture…and the list goes on and on. Local government makes most (if not all) of that happen.
Why aren’t we talking about it more? Why aren’t local governments getting more credit? Why aren’t managers being recognized for these amazing communities they’ve helped build?
Here’s why: we aren’t very good at telling our story. I think managers are some of the most humble people I’ve ever met. You have a passion for service and are content letting others take credit. You’re happy building the building and letting someone else cut the ribbon. Many of you have heard of our “Professional Management Matters” (PMM) campaign. For those that haven’t, our goal is to educate elected officials, citizens, and students about the importance of professional management. Over the last two years, we’ve spoken to numerous cities, counties, community groups, and students about the importance of professional management. FCCMA has made “Professional Management Matters” a priority and will continue to educate the public about the difference that you make and the long-term costs associated with hiring non-professionals. Over the coming months, you may be asked to share your story in front of a Rotary Club, a neighboring city or county commission, or a class full of students. I look forward to working with each of you as we take our PMM efforts to the next level in 2017.